Thursday, August 16, 2007

145th Antietam: Bloody Lane

Hey folks. Are you ready to say "wow"?! Here are some advanced pics of the full scale "Bloody Lane" that was just completed for the 145th Antietam reenactment in Loudoun Heights near Harpers Ferry. Check out the web site too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Perryopolis event housing

I realize October is "three years" away but in reality it is the event is seven weeks away. Many of you told us you were attending the event and we look for a great turn out. The matter of assignments to the Federal barracks will be handled in this manner. I will take housing requests for the next two weeks. At that time a lottery will be held to indicate the assignees ( This will be done on a company basis there is a 40 man capacity of the entire building. Get your registrations in and indicate your desire to bivouac in the barracks NOW!

Keep in mind the barracks is finished and there is a central heating system in place the toilets are finished, the extensive earthworks is completed and wired for pyrotechnics. There has been a log works installed opposite the main earthworks, there is plenty of firewood, and the camps are ready. We have ample gun crews registered and the infantry is coming in as well. It is time to get your people registered in to assure them a place. Remember this is a max effort for the Division so get er done !

Respectfully Yours,

Edward L. Kelley Sr. , Major General
Federal First Division
Birney's Division

Monday, August 13, 2007

Antietam 145th around the corner

The major anniversary event for 2007 is of course the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. The bloodiest day in American history.

Excitement is building in the reenacting community as we are only a month away from the most anticipated event this season.

The observance of Antietam will be held on 14-16 September, 2007 in Loudoun Heights, Virginia. This is a non-spectator event. Here is the action you can expect...

Saturday Battle Scenarios

Escape from Harpers Ferry:

This battle is like no other battle you have experienced at any national anniversary event ever held in major Civil War reenacting today. At any other event of this magnitude the battle scenarios have been carefully scripted and tailored to accommodate spectators. They were always held out in the open and in plain view of the public. For all of you that question the merit of the non-spectator event consider this new and refreshing approach to a battle by reenactors for reenactors. This battle will be very unique, challenging and spontaneous.

The battle will begin with Union mounted cavalry making a hasty retreat out of the Harpers Ferry district over actual roads that were used during the war crossing the site of this event. They will be accompanied by a period horse drawn supply train and light artillery over these wooded trails somewhere on the property. All commanders will not have any knowledge of the train's whereabouts at the start of the battle.

The Confederate command will send a force to reconnoiter and find the Federal Cavalry that is rumored to be making a break out somewhere in the area just as it would have been during the war. When the opposing force is located they will attack and try to turn their advance. Couriers will speed off to alert the opposing armies that will be in camp to come to the aid of their forces already engaged.

Both armies will converge somewhere on the property and one Hell of a fight will ensue. This battle may set the standard for reenactments to come in the future. Imagine for the first time at a major reenactment being able to have a major battle on a wooded trail just the way it would have happened during the war. The battle will test the abilities and instincts of all commanders to follow orders and react to what transpires. This battle has no time limit it lasts till a sealed objective order is fulfilled by both overall commanders. Our abilities will be tested in this new and refreshing approach to the hobby.

The Battle of the West Woods:

The battle of the West Woods will be a hotly contested fight on pristine ground that will be a scripted battle. The battle will roll between the armies back and forth as history dictates with many interesting twists incorporated into a great battle.

The battle opened at dawn (about 5:30 a.m.) on September 17 with an attack down the Hagerstown Turnpike by the Union I Corps under Joseph Hooker. Hooker's objective was the plateau on which the Dunker Church Hooker had approximately 8,600 men, little more than the 7,700 defenders under Stonewall Jackson, and this slight disparity was more than offset by the Confederates' strong defensive positions. Abner Doubleday's division moved on Hooker's right, James Ricketts's moved on the left into the East Woods, and George Meade's division deployed in the center and slightly to the rear. Jackson's defense consisted of the divisions under Alexander Lawton and John R. Jones in line from the West Woods, across the Turnpike, and along the southern end of the Miller Cornfield. Four brigades were held in reserve inside the West Woods.

As the first Union men emerged from the North Woods and into the Cornfield, an artillery duel erupted. Confederate fire was from the horse artillery batteries under Jeb Stuart to the west and four batteries under Col. Stephen D. Lee on the high ground across the pike from the Dunker Church to the south. Union return fire was from nine batteries on the ridge behind the North Woods and four batteries of 20-pounder 2 miles (3 km) east of Antietam Creek. The conflagration caused heavy casualties on both sides and was described by Col. Lee as "Artillery Hell."

Sunday Battle Scenario

The Battle of the Sunken Road:

The Finale to this great reenactment weekend will be the Battle of the Sunken Road. This battle will be fought on a 1/8th mile natural swale that will have a the eerie look of the Sunken Road on that day in September in 1862 near Sharpsburg Maryland complete with a replica rail fence that stood at the time of the battle. To add to the excitement and realism there will be major league pyrotechnics done by the experts that do the famous Perryopolis event in Western Pennsylvania. Great pains have been taken to make this battle as realistic as possible and it will be one you all will not soon forget.

For those of you who have not been to the web site, click here to check it out and download your registration form.

AAR: Hale Farm 2007

Our max effort event for Birney's 2d Battalion is now in the bag. One of our largest turn-outs to date, Infantry and artillery personnel totalled just a little over a hundred soldiers, with more than a dozen civilians.

Your humble Battalion Commander arrived a little after noon, meeting with Maj Van Meter and his team who set up the military camp layout and began setting up the kitchen area where Saturday evening's feast would be prepared.

Throughout the day, troops and civilians began to filter in, and Taylor's Battery pulled in with the much-welcomed "heavy equipment". Tents stuffed the designated ground and soon there was laughter and smiles as friends across the battalion greeted each other. It was clear that we would once again be in for a good time.

The weather promised to be hot but dry. And it was. Saturday morning saw early company and battalion drill as Gen Waffler of the US Volunteers wanted to take advantage of the cooler morning hours. After shaking off the rust, and evolving though some larger battalion movements, we retired back to camp in order to make adjustments to equipment, get some food in our tummys, and enjoy the Camp Chase Fife and Drum concert that was going on right next to us.

After some coordination with the Confederate staff, Gen Waffler requested that one of our field pieces serve on the "buttlernut" side of the field to even up the scenario. A little after 1 pm, the drums and bugle called us to form for the fight.

After entering the woods at the one end of the battlefield, we cleared weapons and set the our battalion at rest. The first battalion of US Volunteers hit the field first and our two gun crews began to shoot at one another from opposite sides. There had been a concentrated effort to script the battle, specifically the process of casualties. Greater ranges were used but almost all volleys were met with bodies hitting the ground. Though it shortened up the time of the battle, it made for a more realistic portrayal for the onlookers.

2d Battalion emerged from the woods, and began sending lead down range once the retreating and chopped up USVs pulled back. Moving to the high ground, our battalion looked upon the on-coming rebs. They came at us, never stopping to fire. With that, 2d Battalion took no casualties, but within seven volleys, we had cut them down and sent the rest running. Though we didn't get to burn much powder this day, the bodies on the field were greater than what we normally experience.

Back in camp, the troops cooled down, the highlight of the evening was a pig roast with fixing's. There was no lack of chow for those who needed to expand their figure.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying time with good friends, as well as good drink and tobacco for those who wanted to partake.

On Sunday, sore bones rose from their slumber, a quick breakfast was consumed and the cool morning hours were again used for dress parade. The day wound on as suttlering and pre-departure packing occupied the soldier's time. The battalion was also treated to more of Saturday night's pig, now dressed with BBQ sauce and stacked on a bun.

2d Battalion would today be lead to the slaughter. This was our chance to get into a better fight than Saturday. We moved forward with both of our guns now putting shells down range this day. The Confederate onslaught came right at us. As was planned, the company commanders focused on safety and direction, and the battalion wing commanders directed the casualty rate. Most of the battalion staff went down under this attack, leaving Czar Baltzer to lead the survivors to the rear.

After a better fight on Sunday, Birney's "meat grinding" 2d Battalion was fat, happy, and low on powder!

Next year is Hale Farm's 50th anniversary. This could potentially be the largest reenactment there in years. I for one am looking forward to it.

I want to thank my Adjutant Bob Penix and the other members of Team Penix (Pam and Patty). Paul Baltzer and Mark Gaynor for commanding the wings. Don Van Meter, Will Coffinbarger, and associates for laying out the camp and making a wonderful dinner!! Also, Burdell Waffler and his staff for their hospitality.

A big huzzah for our participating units: the 4th OVI, 5th OVI, 5th Ohio SS, 5th USCT, 7th Wisconsin, 74th NY, 83rd PVI, 105th OVI, Cushing/Taylor's Battery, and the galvanized 5th Texas artillery/infantry.

Lt Col Christopher Smith
Commanding, 2d Battalion
Birney's Division

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2d Battalion Camp at Hale Farm

I just received an update from Gen Waffler and Hale Farm. Due to the size of our Battalion, Hale Farm is putting us up near the saw mill (click on a picture for a satellite image). This area is within the facility itself but will allow us more room.

I will be on site Friday around 1 pm. We are not to set up prior to the afternoon on Friday due to Hale Farm's insurance requirements. Don Van Meter of the 105th Ohio will also be there to direct you on where to set up.

We will be able to extend our camp into the woods, that will also allow us to forage for wood. However, based on last year, you may want to bring some firewood as a backup if you plan to do a lot of cooking.

DON'T FORGET: The Battalion Pig Roast Saturday night ($6.00 a head). Make sure to email your reservation to

Sunday is Western Impression Day. Sack coats and slouch hats if you have them. This is not a requirement.

Looking forward to a big turnout. Please email with any questions.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Birney's to go Whole Hog at Hale

As has become a tradition throughout the year, Birney's Division will do a period hog roast Saturday night at the reenactment at Hale Farm next weekend for our soldiers and their families. $6.00 per head will cover our costs and include sides (but ya gotsta bring your own drink).

PLEASE SEND THIS MESSAGE TO ALL OF YOUR UNIT MEMBERS!!! To reserve your meal, you must drop an email as soon as possible to Private "Fire at" Will Coffinbarger,